The Consortium for Worker Education (CWE) and its commitment partners, Bluedrop Learning Networks and Pacific Gateway commit to designing and implementing the Regional Empowerment Portal (REP), an online platform that will aggregate publicly available workforce development and publicly funded social support resources into a single environment. Bluedrop has constructed and will administer the REP to the specifications of the CWE and Pacific Gateway, who will in turn offer their services on and through the REP to underemployed, and dislocated workers in New York City, NY and Long Beach, California.
For job seekers, the REP functions in a Facebook type homepage that gives them control of their job search and training preparation experience with access to remedial and basic workforce prep courses, industry profiles, industry-specific training content, referrals to programs, and the ability to communicate with similar learners, job seekers, mentors, and local businesses. A Workers Passport section allows the user (or provider staff) to upload resumes, recommendations, diplomas, and professional certifications and transmit them to participating employers. Completed online prep courses appear in the users Passport, deepening their credential base.
Participating employers will be able to access a continuum of online business development courses for themselves and their employees thereby improving organizational capacity. They will also be able to find individuals with the skills that match their needs, or to upskill their existing workforce through timely remediation. A referral directory will aggregate municipal, state, federal, and non-profit local business services and networks, which will provide additional opportunities to upskill their current employees.
The REP provides workforce development service providers with an unparalleled reporting system, providing secure, real-time data on demographics, usage, and outcomes for individuals, for cadres, or across the entire system. Data gathered during the registration process can also determine possible eligibility for federal assistance and support programs.
June September 2015:
The CWE and Bluedrop will complete the localization, linkage and coordination, and aggregation of the regional workforce and supportive services.
Content development for localized job search, workplace productivity, and industry-endorsed technical training.
Testing with select business groups will begin to determine skillsets required in growth industries.
September 2015 March 2016
Continued content development.
Industry outreach and awareness efforts. Reaching out to such organizations as sector groups, industry associations, and boards trade to promote the initiative and onboard companies into the program.
The CWE will register 1,000 participants on the REP with individual licensing provided by Bluedrop. The REP and all its attendant services, including access to the CWEs Jobs to Build On and Worker Services Center program, will be available to participants.
Pacific Gateway will register participants, consisting of job seekers, incumbent workers, and employer representatives.
April 2016 May 2017
Further registration will be achieved, with tens of thousands of individuals using the system collectively.
Usage, credentials received, programs entered and completed, and other metrics will be reported quarterly.
The full eighteen-month performance (September 2015-March 2017) will be reported.
Sustainable, living wage employment is dependent on a solid skills base and a strong support network. Individuals seeking access to workforce services are in need of a more integrated continuum of services because the available offerings at the workforce locations they visit often do not match their full set of needs. Services are often siloed into separate offerings from several different departments, leaving these individuals without clear, step-by-step instructions for their career and personal development. Other individuals that do not easily fall within the eligibility criteria required by a funding source have no clear path to get just-in-time career development services.
Certain individuals will require intense one-on-one support to find meaningful employment. Others, if given the proper tools, could be entirely self-sufficient throughout the job search process. Providing this kind of optimized solution would require automating elements around program eligibility, skills assessments, and program recommendations, including career information and training options, which would leave more time for employment counselors to work with those who truly need intense, face-to-face assistance.
For workforce providers, having training and employment applicants arrive without any understanding of the workforce preparation process, in-demand occupations, or eligibility requirements is a constant challenge and a drain on resources that could be invested in the deeper end of the service arc. Participants, on the other hand, must sometimes invest an unnecessarily large amount of time and resources for return visits for assessment, eligibility, credentialing, educational remediation, and job preparation workshops, which could be made more efficient and less redundant. For employers, not having clear, open access to the skills sets of job seekers often leads to disengagement from the workforce system.
Individuals need a way to engage with the workforce system in real time no matter how they enter the system, serving themselves where possible and connecting with a caseworker where applicable. They need a place where they can assess their skills and needs and then get connected to the training and benefits that support their advancement. A one-stop online platform that integrates these capabilities will provide immediate benefits to jobseekers and employers and will free up valuable time for case workers to help those in most need.
The Bluedrop, CWE, and Pacific Gateway partnership is seeking additional funding to provide the services on the REP to a greater number of individuals and add additional functionality and service offerings, such as integrating a career exploration tool. Additionally, the partners welcome any programmatic offering, workforce preparation content, assessment tools, or other products and services that can be embedded in the Portal.
As the system becomes fully operational and populated, a wealth of demographic data becomes available in a real-time environment. The partnership is open to sharing the data and experience for the purpose of analysis and research, particularly as it relates to the return on investment for workforce development services and the efficacy of this technical approach.